Interpreting Google Play’s Digital Asset Policy: NFTs are allowed to appear in apps and games, but mining on devices is not allowed.

Author: Jordan, BlockingNews

On July 13th, Google “suddenly” announced that its app store Google Play has adjusted its policy on tokenized digital assets. This is a major policy shift as developers will be able to integrate NFTs and other digital assets into apps and games on Google Play.

Google stated that with the rapid development of blockchain technology, its goal is to provide a platform for developers to flourish in innovation and to create richer and more immersive experiences for users. As for the latest policy adjustment, Google will regard blockchain-based content as tokenized digital assets protected by blockchain, and if an application contains blockchain-based content, it must comply with the relevant requirements.

Specifics of the new Google Play policy

According to the policy announcement released by Google, this technology giant has introduced a policy on blockchain-based content in Google Play, which stipulates that developers must complete an application declaration that allows users to trade blockchain-based digital content (NFT games must also comply with other requirements to increase user transparency and security), mainly including the following four aspects:

1. Cryptocurrency exchanges and software wallets

The purchase, holding, or trading of cryptocurrency should be conducted through certified services in regulated jurisdictions.

Application developers must also comply with applicable laws and regulations in any regions or countries/territories targeted by the application and avoid releasing related applications in places where products and services are prohibited. Google Play may require additional information or documentation regarding compliance with any applicable laws or licensing requirements.

2. Cryptocurrency mining

Google does not allow applications to mine cryptocurrency on devices, but allows applications to remotely manage cryptocurrency mining.

3. Transparency requirements for the distribution of tokenized digital assets

If the application sells or allows users to earn tokenized digital assets, it must declare this through the financial function declaration table on the application content page in the Google Play management center. When creating in-app products, it is necessary to describe the relevant involvement of tokenized digital assets in the product details, and it is not permitted to promote or glamorize any potential income derived from game or trading activities.

4. Additional requirements for NFT gamification

According to Google Play’s policy on gambling, games, and competitions, gambling apps that integrate tokenized digital assets (such as NFTs) must complete the application process. All other apps that do not qualify as gambling apps and are not included in other real-money gaming pilots should not accept or increase anything of monetary value in exchange for the opportunity to obtain “valueless NFTs.” The NFTs purchased by users should be consumed or used within the game to enhance the user experience or help the user progress in the game. NFTs may not be used for betting or pledging in exchange for the chance to win real-world monetary value prizes (including other NFTs).

Under this clause, Google lists two examples of violations:

  • Applications that sell bundled NFTs without disclosing the specific content and value of the NFTs.

  • Pay-to-play social gambling games that offer reward NFTs, such as slot machine-like apps.

Can Google’s adjustment of the digital asset policy for the app store boost the NFT and blockchain game market?

Google Play Group Product Manager Joseph Mills stated that under Google’s new policy, partners will be able to rethink traditional games of “user-owned content” and increase user loyalty through unique NFT rewards. It is worth noting that Reddit is one of the partners that helped develop Google’s new policy, and the social giant has had tremendous success with Avatar NFTs. According to the latest data from Dune Analytics, there are 13,172,700 holders of Reddit Collectible Avatar NFTs, and the total number of minted Reddit Collectible Avatar NFTs exceeds 17.09 million, with a market value of over $56 million.

Reddit Senior Engineering Manager Matt Williamson admits that the updated Google digital asset policy will create a more level playing field, promote user trust, and responsible use of blockchain technology. In fact, user trust is very important for the “fragile” crypto industry. Google stipulates that although tokenized assets are intended to build richer, immersive experiences, as an additional user protection, developers may not advertise or glamorize any potential revenue from game or transaction activities. This means that apps that do not meet the requirements cannot promote buying “loot boxes” or other in-game items to obtain the chance to win NFTs.

Overall, Google’s move indicates a shift in attitude towards Web3. After all, for a considerable period of time, Google’s policies towards blockchain-based applications have been criticized by the crypto community, and even referred to as a “black box”. For example, games like “Bitcoin Blast” were kicked out of the Google Play store in 2021 without clear explanation.

However, it seems that Google is now beginning to rethink its attitude towards cryptocurrency. In 2022, Google Play relisted the decentralized data storage application ArDrive Mobile, and later allowed Axie Infinity: Origin to appear in selected Google Play markets. In April of this year, Google Cloud launched the “Google for Startups Cloud Program” and opened it up to Web3 industry builders, with eligible projects from Pre-Seed to A-round being able to apply for the program. This includes up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credits over two years, as well as other technical support, to help Web3 developers accelerate their startups.

There is no doubt that Google’s new digital asset policy will give a boost to the sluggish crypto market, especially the NFT market. The new policy is expected to be fully launched later this year, and its subsequent effects are worth paying attention to.

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